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Health Promotion Programme for the Prisoners and Employees of Koridallos Judicial Prison

Quality level: 1

Initial situation

A correctional institution is considered to be a small society governed by specific rules aiming solely at running smoothly. However, at the same time, many signifcant problems are observed in the Koridallos Judicial Prison. In particular, the significant lack of personnel (scarcely 210 employees) in combination with overcrowding which prevails in prison settings (2,200 prisoners are accomodated in a prison for 480 inmates), and the continuous transfer of prisoners which hampers any attempt of improvement to hygiene and living conditions. Additional factors, such as the lack of therapeutic programmes and the absence of segregation among detainees have negative effects on individual physical and mental health. Moreover, the bad living conditions, the restricted access to health facilities, as well as the lack of health equipment result in the increase of risk practices related to drug use. As far as drug use is concerned, verified data show that a large share of prisoners use addictive substances. More specifically, according to the answers of a random sample consisted of 140 inmates, 47.7% reported that they were using addictive substances outside prison, while 95.3% of them continue drug use in prison. The vast majority (80%) are intravenous heroin users. Although, the aforementioned problems could be really solved only with desicions made and implemented by the state and the relevant ministry and hardly with the actions of a non-governmental organisation, initiatives taken by a non-governmental organisation are considered of significant importance for the promotion of harm reduction within the prison setting. In this context, the presence of Medecins Sans Frontieres in the prison was initiated upon the respective request of the manager of the in-prison self-help programme of "18 ANO" (Attica State Psychiatric Hospital ) and the scientific staff of the prison. Then, with the consent of the Ministry of Justice (18.12.2000) an exploratory study was conducted within the prison setting. The presented programme is based on the results of this study as well as on the principle of the MSF not to substitute for the main state services and obligations.

Basic assumptions/theory

The on-site observation, the collection of information through interviews and questionnaires prior, during and after the implementation of the actions, give the opportunity for inside knowledge and ascertainment of the actual everyday living conditions. Moreover, the evaluation results will ascertain the problems that could not be solved with the implementation of the programme. In this way, by pointing out the problematic elements, the programme could sensitise the responsible agents, in order to take measures for the improvement of the conditions. The programme is developed within a general harm reduction context applying the model of health education and information on substances with a "person-centred" approach. In particular, the programme includes lectures, compilation of information leaflets and individual meetings with the prisoners with regard to health issues (i.e. infectious diseases) and their reintegration after release. The interventions to the prison's staff reflect the belief that the enhancement of their knowledge on first aid issues, on infectious diseases and on the effects of drugs on the human organisation could facilitate the handling of cases and the health protection of both personnel and prisoners. Within this context, the programme organises lectures to prison staff (mainly at the in-prison medical unit) and has developed a manual on the aforementioned issues for the professionals. The support of the medical unit with equipment is led by the assumption that the supply of health equipment facilitates the application of the taught techniques and practices.

The PDF contains the full intervention description including additional contact information.

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Page last updated: Friday, 20 January 2012